Boredoms: Night Move
On March 30, 2008 the mighty Boredoms from Osaka, Japan returned to New York to perform at Terminal 5 in Manhattan, in the round, on a stage in the center of the space surrounded by the crowd. Their last performance in New York was their, now legendary, shamanistic freakout "77 BOA DRUM", on July 7th 2007. Last nights show sealed the deal for me. They are the best live thing happening right now. The Boredoms are supernatural.
First let's view the contrasts between this show and their last New York appearance. Last time was a free outdoor concert in a picturesque setting, staged on 7/7/07 at 7 pm with 77 drummers. It was essentially a sun worship ceremony which took place next to the river in Brooklyn, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. The band was also in the center of a circle of mass-audience for that event. This time, four main Boredoms played onstage (attended by a very diligent guitar tuning technician) in a huge indoor venue, vaguely resembling a maximum security prison, on a quite regular, early Spring evening, with tickets priced at $30. Two towering levels of balcony, running 3 of the venues 4 walls, contributed to the prison feel and made the event seem almost futuristic as well. In both situations the Boredoms were completely in control of the vibe from the offset. In both situations the band was able to teleport the audience to other dimensions and tap into the primordial forces of the universe.
The beginning of the show at Terminal 5 had Yamataka Eye, wearing some sort of light bulb mittens and scatting glossolalia towards the roof of the venue while passing his glowing hands through the energy field of some insane modified theremin, which issued forth harsh and beautiful edgy tones. This was followed by some awesomely choppy drum punctuations, more yelling in some alien language, then crescendoed until Eye's special 7 necked guitar instrument, dubbed Sevena was introduced.
This custom instrument was similar to the one used in last summer's "drum orgy", but was actually made of one solid body, like 7 guitars melted together. It was an improvement on an amazing concept, which creates a mammoth and ethereal sound in various odd tunings. This "percussive guitar" is played with thick sticks or else various staffs of different weights and made of different materials. The previously mentioned tuning tech spent the whole night tuning and retuning these guitar necks all night while Eye beat the living hell out of them. It seemed a Sisyphusian task for which this bloke deserved props. By the end of the show, the instrument was in total disarray, after some heavy climaxes, which left many a string broken and flying in every which direction.
Eye's presence throughout the whole night was epic. He truly is channeling some heavy shit. At one point he did the "rock and roll thing" where he encouraged all in the room to do the overhead clap to a steady beat. It felt like one thousand poly-rhythms at once and I saw him smile a very curious smile. He beamed completely and his face morphed into that of the Buddha. I swear I saw him for about 5 seconds in an incarnation which was more than human. I was further impressed, at the end of the spectacle when i noticed him limping off stage in a foot-boot-cast. Hardcore! Eye, along with the rest of his crew, has tapped into some cosmic space. He seems to be a medium, a messenger. They all are. The Boredoms are deeply spiritual and have a particular affinity for Sun Worship. On this particular night, using their drums, voices, triggers, turntables, synths, percussive guitars, samplers, cowbells etc. as vehicles, they tapped into the night energies, exposed the beauty of dark matter, and reflected the natural element of the human, bouncing their sound vibes off the audience.
The drumming was the part which truly floored me. Compared to the drumming of the "77 BOA DRUM" performance, the beats were more ferocious and fleet-of-foot: unencumbered by the extra weight of the 74 mortals who helped them out last time. There was times where the three drum kits in unison where churning out beats which seemed to me impossible. How could three humans interact so precisely and soulfully with such complicated patterns of poly-rhythms. I found myself screaming the "F" word uncontrollably as a reaction to my disbelief, while dancing, twitching and shaking my head like I was possessed. The rhythms were incredibly danceable, certainly tribal, and often had no frame of reference. I would consider some passages of their two hour set to be "alien rhythms". Drummers, Yoshimi, Senju and Yojiro all deserve "superhuman performance awards" as well. In his 2004 article about the Boredoms in the Village Voice Jason Gross, with a scholarly approach, dissected the art and origins of Boredoms drumming, "At times, the result evokes Taiko drumming, marching bands, funk, Latin disco, or gamelan and West African drum ensembles: Many Japanese today embrace the religious idea of syncretism, where many different beliefs are accepted at once..." This statement from 4 years back is still relevant, but I feel that the drumming mastery has come even further since. There are more influences mixed in and greater intensity: more improbable beats which work to lube the mind and open the heart.
In this era of war and ecological crisis, it is important for shamanistic groups like the Boredoms to exist. Most people are thoroughly disillusioned with institutions. In this scenario, sacred musical events can and should act as bridges between the people and the higher powers. Meaningful ceremony in our culture has been replaced by the ceremony at the end of the reality TV show when one unfortunate contestant is sadly sent home. Artists and musicians are magicians and provide portals for the imagination. The Boredoms are the most adept at bridging this gap. They are now and have been considered hip. The fact that they are channeling spiritual potency legitimizes feelings which are often dismissed. Something is brewing in the Zeitgeist. I recently attended an underground music event in Brooklyn, with hundreds of folks in attendance, mostly college aged. The bands were of the metal, dance punk and avant garde ilks. Before the first band kicked off, we enjoyed a solid hour of Grateful Dead hits. In between each band that night was heavy dub reggae. Before the Boredoms was 30 minutes of Mbira (African Thumb Piano) music through the house PA. I feel something going on. I remember when the Grateful Dead was the kiss of death for cool kids. Ha ha ha ha!
words by Matthew Clark
for the nerds...
Boredoms U.S.A. â€¢ Spring 2008
* 15/Mar/2008 (Sat) : SAN DIEGO, CA Cane's
* 16/Mar/2008 (Sun) : LOS ANGELES, CA Henry Fonda
* 18/Mar/2008 (Tue) : SAN FRANCISCO, CA Fillmore - in the round
* 20/Mar/2008 (Thu) : PORTLAND, OR Crystal Ballroom
* 21/Mar/2008 (Fri) : SEATTLE, WA Neumos
* 25/Mar/2008 (Tue) : MINNEAPOLIS, MN First Avenue - in the round
* 26/Mar/2008 (Wed) : CHICAGO, IL Logan Square - in the round
* 29/Mar/2008 (Sat) : BOSTON, MA Paradise
* 30/Mar/2008 (Sun) : NEW YORK, NY Terminal 5 - in the round
* 02/Apr/2008 (Wed) : PHILADELPHIA, PA Starlight
* 03/Apr/2008 (Thu) : WASHINGTON, DC 9:30 Club
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